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Trump Under Siege

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By David Leonhardt

“We’ve seen indications that Mueller is getting close to the end here,” says Susan Hennessey, of the Lawfare blog, about Robert Mueller’s investigation. “That’s either good news for the president because, this is all about to wrap up, or it’s really bad news for the president because it’s all about to come crashing down.”

What are those indications? They include the latest flurry of legal proceedings involving people central to the investigation, like Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort. Hennessey predicts that the investigation will likely wrap up by early spring.

If that’s right, much of the news in the next few months will be dominated by Russia. And I think that’s one reason why congressional Republicans seem more willing to defy Trump — as they have in recent days on Yemen, a few judicial nominations and Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. “The Trump White House is very much under siege,” Mikhaila Fogel and Benjamin Wittes write in an Atlantic piece that walks through the White House’s problems.

For more on the Russia investigation, listen to the new episode of “The Argument” podcast. It includes the interview with Hennessey that’s quoted above, as well as a debate among Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and me over whether Trump’s behavior means he deserves to be removed from office. Ross says no. Michelle and I say, “Dayenu!

Wisconsin. Republican legislators in Wisconsin yesterday approved a naked partisan power grab, removing authority from the governor’s office for the simple reason that the new governor will be a Democrat.

It’s ugly stuff, and I think it’s crucial that other Republicans try to halt the bill. (The governor, Scott Walker, has yet to sign it, and the bill is likely to be challenged in court.) One prominent Republican businessman in Wisconsin, Sheldon Lubar, spoke out against it, as Meg Jones of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“We rely on norms of mutual toleration and forbearance to ensure the peaceful transfer of power. Violating that compact undermines democracy,” the political scientist Brendan Nyhan wrote yesterday. “Scholars of democratic erosion know how dangerous this situation can be.”

To paraphrase Seth Masket, another political scientist: Where are the Republicans who like democracy more than they hate Democrats?

Elsewhere, Jamil Smith of Rolling Stone calls the Wisconsin move “a declaration that only Republicans are allowed to run things, even when the voters say otherwise, and that any challenges to their power are invalid.” HuffPost’s Igor Bobic points out that top Republicans — including Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan — have mostly been silent.

You can join me on Twitter (@DLeonhardt) and Facebook. I am also writing a daily email newsletter and invite you to subscribe.

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